Rabbi Daniel Cohen writes, “as long as I am the only officiant, I will perform an interfaith marriage (with the hope that, by doing so, I will be helping to create a new Jewish home).” (“I’m left of the Left, and I support AIPAC,” Feb. 27). Why are rabbis unwilling to be co-officiants at an interfaith wedding? If an interfaith couple agrees to raise their children as Jews why would a rabbi object to the inclusion of another member of the clergy that ministers to the other marriage partner’s family?
My longtime rabbi refused to marry my daughter because my son-in-law (and I) saw no reason not to honor his mother’s request to have her minister be part of the ceremony. We were forced to hire a stranger to perform the ceremony. That was more than 20 years ago. Their first two children were bar mitzva and their third and youngest child will become a bar mitzva this spring.
My younger daughter asked her sister’s rabbi to marry her and her non-Jewish fiance. The fiance’s aunt is a minister and his family wanted her to be part of the ceremony. The rabbi refused to “share the pulpit” with a non-Jewish clergyperson. They now have two very young children. The experience turned them away from Judaism; at this point they could care less if they are brought up Jewish.
It seems to me that rabbis should welcome our children into their synagogues rather than push them away. What is gained with this anachronistic policy? My older daughter’s rabbi presides over a congregation whose young interfaith couples far outnumber couples where both partners are Jewish. Naturally neither daughter was willing to join a congregation led by a rabbi who refused to participate in their marriage ceremony.